Thursday, June 18, 2009

MARKER REVIEW 2 : Tippmann A-5

Tippmann A-5

The A-5 is a semi-automatic pneumatic marker made by Tippmann for playing paintball. Inspired by the look and feel of the Heckler & Koch MP5K submachine gun, it was first produced in 2002 in the USA. It utilizes a loading concept called the "Cyclone Feed System".


The standard A5 is a semi-automatic, open bolt blow-back operated, sear-trigger paintball marker. Its inline blowback gas system can utilize both CO2 and HPA propellants. Standard marker includes single-finger trigger, 8.5 in (216 mm) ported barrel, front and rear sights, tournament-legal velocity adjuster, opaque black 200-round wide-mouth hopper and Cyclone-Feed System.

  • Caliber: 0.68
  • Action: Semi-automatic, Fully Automatic (A-5 with E-Grip only)
  • Power: CO2, compressed air, nitrogen, and propane
  • Feed rate: 15bps (up to 30 bps with certain Cyclone upgrades)
  • Firing rate: 1-15bps (Tippmann E-Grip ROF 8-30bps Auto)
  • Trigger: Standard
  • Barrel length: 8.5 inches
  • Length: 20 inches(with stock barrel on)
  • Weight: 3.5 lbs. (without tank)
  • Effective Range: 150+ ft

Cyclone-Feed System

photo showing the unique Cyclone Feed System of the Tippmann A-5 paintball marker

Tippmann A-5s use a special paintball feed mechanism called the Cyclone-Feed System. It is similar to electric loaders in that it attempts to increase the rate at which the paintball marker can feed balls into the chamber.

Whereas most markers have a feed tube attached to a hopper/loader that either drops paintballs one-by-one or force-feeds (in the case of some loaders) into the chamber, the Cyclone-Feed System is a housing on the right side of the marker. Contained within the housing are two star-shaped sprockets. Paintballs fall from a wide mouth hopper into the gaps between the spokes. As the operator fires, some gas from the firing cycle is routed to a cylinder, which holds a piston. Gas pressure pushes the piston forward, also compressing a spring which will return the piston when the gas pressure in the cylinder drops; at far end of its travel, the piston is connected to a ratchet which interacts with a toothed gear, the advancement of which on the piston's return stroke [important because it regulates the force with which the paintballs are struck by the spokes] rotates the position of the spokes counterclockwise and feeds a paintball into the chamber. This effectively means that the rate at which paintballs are being fed into the marker is dependent on the rate at which the operator pulls the trigger. Users have reported speeds in excess of 25 bps, but this requires mechanical modification to the stock cyclone parts. It is advertised at 15+ bps.


The A-5 is one of the most modifiable paintball markers in existence. Some products are performance upgrades, while others are purely aesthetic. Kits available at many stores and websites can allow the A-5 to resemble many real-world firearms (see Appearance)

Some of the many upgrades include:

  • Barrels
  • Body Kits
  • Camouflage Kits
  • Compressed Air Low-Pressure Kits
  • Drop Forwards are very good if you want to use a stock
  • remote lines
  • Electronic Upgrades
  • Expansion Chambers
  • Foregrips/False Magazines
  • Hoppers (due to the unique Cyclone-Feed System, very few hoppers [the stock hopper, Ricochet hopper, TAC-Cap loader, X-7 Marker Hopper, 240 round ammo box version, and a 450 Round Offset Hopper] are available); Q-Loader also manufactures a Q-Loader System for the A-5, although it typically requires the right receiver to be milled, unless a custom-manufactured attachment bracket is used.
  • Regulators
  • Stocks
  • Tactical Shrouds
  • Triggers

The upgrades available from Tippmann specifically for the A-5 include the CAR Stock, Response Trigger, E-Grip, Low-Pressure Kit, Expansion Chamber, Universal Mount, 98 to A-5 Barrel Adapter, Remote Line, Sniper Barrel (12", 14", 16" lengths), Camouflage Graphics Kit, Longbow Stock (with or without air-thru), Dogleg Stock (with or without air-thru), Double Trigger Kit and Flatline Barrel System.

Flatline Barrel System

The Flatline barrel is a curved paintball barrel. The slight "S"-shaped curvature, in addition to a roughly honed surface at select points in the barrel, creates backspin on the ball which increases its range by 100+ feet over a standard barrel. Some players feel that it is not quite as accurate as many other paintball barrels, because each paintball is spun differently. Another disadvantage some players claim is its tendency to break paintballs more easily. This can be remedied with higher quality paint, however. The Flatline is also quite loud, due to lack of porting.

Unfortunately, Flatline Barrels are sometimes considered difficult to remove and clean, though it has been said that the A5 is much easier over the version used by the Tippmann 98 Custom. On the 98 Custom model, they do not screw into the adapter on the muzzle of the marker; three bolts must be loosened before the barrel can be removed.

The Flatline is often favored by players who like to play farther back roles, especially those providing suppressive fire as the range gives them an advantage.


The E-Grip is an aftermarket pistol grip and trigger for the A-5, though the model A-5 with E-Grip can be bought directly from Tippmann. There are two types of electronic triggers now available.

There is the older and significantly harder to find Tippmann produced E-Grip. It features five different fire selections which include:

  • Semi-Automatic Fire
  • Full-Automatic Fire
  • 3-Round Burst Fire
  • Turbo Fire
  • Auto-Response Fire

The maximum firing rate of the E-Grip is 17 balls-per-second. Firing modes are very easily selected by means of a screw which is rotated to toggle modes. Maximum rate of fire can also be changed via another screw on the grip frame.

There is also the newer E-Grip produced by Wicked Air Sports (W.A.S). This is what is commonly sold now by Tippmann in their E-Grip package. This trigger will also be installed an all A-5 markers ordered with the E-Grip installed. Firing modes on the W.A.S. trigger are:

  • Semi Automatic
  • Three Shot Ramping
  • Three Shot Full Auto
  • Auto-Response
  • Turbo

The "Three" in the "Three Shot Ramping" and "Three Shot Full Auto" programming modes refers to the trigger needing to be pulled three times before the Full Auto or Ramping are activated. The first three shots in this will be Semi Automatic. This makes the trigger legal for certain competitions.

Programming the W.A.S. trigger is more difficult. There is a menu system that is controlled by the pressing both trigger and a small button on the front of the grip that can only be pressed with a tool. There is a small three color LED that outputs data by different patterns of blinking and LED color.

The trigger can be programmed more deeply than the older Tippmann E-Grip. Maximum firing rate is 30 balls-per-second but is usually programmed much lower. Dwell and Debounce is also programmable.

The W.A.S. board is also used in the Tippmann 98 line of paintball markers. However the polarity of the microswitch is reversed. Polarity can be changed by referring to the owners manual. The same board can be used in both markers.

Response Trigger System

The Response Trigger System is a firing system available for the A-5. The system uses a series of parts that are added to the marker to greatly increases firing rate for the marker. The system uses excess carbon dioxide or compressed air from the firing process to reset the trigger and sear with a pneumatic cylinder. The system can reset the trigger with only moderate pressure on the trigger. When this happens, the pressure of the finger can immediately pull the trigger back, creating "bounce", and firing again. This effectively gives the shooter the ability to fire at fully-automatic speeds. As such, it has been banned at some commercial paintball fields.

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